Community Builder Award

Pastor John Udo- Okon & Sister Felicia Udo- Okon
Rev. Dr. John Udo-Okon & Rev. Felicia Udo-Okon
Senior Pastors, Word of Life Fellowship of Churches International,
Mott Haven Fridge Network Food Distributor

Reverend John Udo-Okon, a community organizer and pastor, began his ministry in Nigeria in 1987, conducting missionary work and collaborating with the Sudan United Mission-Christian Reformed Church on Christian-themed arts projects. In 1997, John immigrated to the United States to join his wife, Pastor Felicia Udo-Okon. Together, they settled in the Bronx and opened Word of Life Christian Fellowship International in their apartment in 1999.

The church quickly grew, leading Pastors John and Felicia to expand its reach. In 2003, a life-changing encounter with a man searching for food in a dumpster inspired John to start a formal hunger relief program. What began as a small initiative feeding 800 people per month has now evolved into a multi-service agency serving 8,000 households monthly. Word of Life's services include a community food pantry, youth programs, summer meals, food stamp screening, HIV/AIDS outreach, WIC referrals, health insurance enrollment, immigration services, a clothing bank, and vaccination outreach.

Community Innovator Award

Dr. Mark Levy
President & CEO, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield

Throughout his career, Dr. Levy has been committed to building health systems to support excellent care for vulnerable populations. His professional passions include building coalitions to improve the health of New Yorkers, engaging with communities and building high performing teams. Under his leadership, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield HP recently received the new Health Equity Accreditation Plus for its Medicaid Plan from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA). This recognition affirms that Anthem leads the industry in developing solutions to ensure access to high quality, equitable healthcare.

For more than 80 years, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield has served New Yorkers and currently provides access to healthcare and support services to address the physical, behavioral and social needs of 555,000 New Yorkers in the state’s Medicaid program. The Anthem teams represent the best of the communities we serve as we live and work throughout New York’s diverse neighborhoods which is reflected in our deep commitment to increasing equitable access to quality healthcare for all New Yorkers.

Civic Leadership Award

Council Member Amanda Farias
Council Member Amanda Farias
New York City Council District 18

Amanda Farías is a lifelong Bronxite, born and raised in Soundview as a second-generation Afro-Latina of Puerto Rican and Dominican descent. She is a proud product of local schools and community institutions. Growing up she attended P.S. 69 and Holy Cross School and spent after-school hours and summers at the local Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club. She is a graduate of Preston High School and St. John’s University with a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in Government and Politics, where her passion for community service, activism, and empowerment began.‚Äč

She presently serves as the Majority Leader of the City Council and is in her second term as the Council Member for the 18th District, representing the neighborhoods of Castle Hill, Clason Point, Harding Park, Parkchester, Unionport, Soundview, and Westchester Square.

She was first elected as the Council Member of the 18th district in 2021, won her re-election in November 2023, and was appointed as Majority Leader in January 2024.

Her appointment as Majority Leader by Speaker Adrienne E. Adams was a historic moment that signified the next generation of leadership in New York. Farías is the first Latina to serve in this role and marks the first time the top leadership positions of the New York City Council will all be held by women, all of whom are women of color.

Civic Leadership Award

Council Member Rita Joseph
Council Member Rita Joseph
New York City Council District 40

Council Member Rita Joseph was elected in 2021 to represent the neighborhoods of Flatbush, Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Kensington, Ditmas Park, and Southern Crown Heights in New York City. Prior to her election to the City Council, Ms. Joseph was a dedicated public school teacher, a community activist, and a proud union member.

Immigrating from Haiti in her youth, Ms. Joseph began her advocacy early. At 19, she founded Haitian Enforcement Against Racism and organized a rally that successfully challenged the FDA's discriminatory “bad blood” rules preventing Haitians from donating blood. This rally, which saw over 150,000 participants, led to the FDA rescinding the rule.

Throughout her twenties, despite being a teen mom and balancing a full-time job, Ms. Joseph continued her activism, organizing protests against police brutality and cuts to student transit discounts. As a teacher at PS6, she secured significant funding for technological improvements, benefiting thousands of children. Her efforts were supported by notable figures including then-Borough President Eric Adams, Senator Kevin Parker, Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte, and then-Council Member Matthieu Eugene.

Additionally, Ms. Joseph served as Chair of the Neighborhood Advisory Board, appointed by State Senator Kevin Parker, and was a member of the Citywide Participatory Budgeting Committee, appointed by then-Council Speaker Corey Johnson. Council Member Joseph is dedicated to improving public schools, advocating for affordable housing, addressing the climate crisis, and pursuing comprehensive criminal and social justice reform for all New Yorkers.

Heart of the Community Award

Philip Grant, CEO, Hunts Point Market
Philip Grant
CEO, Hunts Point Market

Phillip Grant is the Chief Executive Officer of the Hunts Point Produce Market. The Market is composed of 29 merchants with a deep history in supporting New York City’s essential food infrastructure and spanning multiple generations of expertise. Phillip, in collaboration with these merchants, was pivotal to keeping New York City fed throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The Hunts Point Produce Market is committed to serving the New York City region—and that includes giving back. The Market partners with local food rescue and food-service organizations to donate our surplus produce. In 2019, more than 6 million pounds of food made its way to our neighbors in the five boroughs and Westchester County. Our long-standing community partners include, but are not limited to, Feeding Westchester, Food Bank for New York City and City Harvest.

Previously, Phillip held the role of Senior Vice President and Director of Construction for the Asset Management Operations division of the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC). Phillip is currently leading a historic public fundraising campaign in partnership with the NYCEDC and has raised nearly a third of a billion dollars to revitalize the Hunts Point Produce Market – with more funding to come. The funding will go towards a nearly $1 billion redevelopment project that will transform the Market into a state-of-the-art facility of sustainable and complimentary businesses that will support New York City’s food infrastructure for generations to come. Phillip is a Licensed Professional Engineer in New York, a certified construction manager, and a graduate of Fairleigh Dickinson University and holds an MBA from Mercy College.

Local Hero Award

Officer Stacy Ann Kennedy
Officer Stacy-Ann Kennedy
New York City Police Officer/Community Affairs Division, 46th Precinct

Officer Stacy-Ann Kennedy is a dedicated police officer whose journey embodies resilience, compassion, and a commitment to community service. Originally from Jamaica, Stacy-Ann made the courageous decision to immigrate to the United States at the age of 21 in pursuit of new opportunities and a brighter future.

In 2005, Officer Kennedy embarked on her career path in public service by joining the New York City Public School system as a Paraprofessional. This role not only provided her with invaluable experience in education but also instilled in her a deep sense of empathy and understanding for the diverse needs of her community.

Drawing from her background in education and her unwavering passion for serving others, Officer Kennedy transitioned to law enforcement, where she found her true calling. In 2021, she proudly assumed the role of Community Affairs Officer at the 46th Precinct in the Bronx. In this capacity, Stacy-Ann utilizes her unique ability to connect with local youth, forging meaningful relationships and fostering trust between law enforcement and the community.

Officer Kennedy’s dedication to building safer and stronger communities is evident in her tireless efforts to engage, educate, and empower those she serves. With her genuine warmth, approachability, and commitment to making a difference, Stacy-Ann Kennedy exemplifies the epitome of service and embodies the values of the law enforcement profession.